A large portion of the world’s population deals with some mental disorder of one kind or another, sometimes multiple. Often times, individuals find themselves grappling with anxiety, especially social anxiety. In varying levels of severity, everybody has been nervous or afraid of some social situation, somewhere or somehow.
However, there may be a way of calming these fears. Over the past few decades, researchers have found all kinds of treatments for anxiety. Many of these are unnatural, engineered prescriptions. Oxytocin is different. Natural oxytocin is a hormone and neuropeptide secreted by the brain, and may be of use in treating anxiety disorders.
Oxytocin experiments have shown that it may have medicinal potential. Usually known as a love hormone or cuddle chemical, it plays an important role in bonding, affection, and trust. Consequently, oxytocin bonding is believed to play a role in sociability. Consequently, researchers have been trying to identify how it works, and how else it can be used.
In 1998, researcher K. Uvnas-Moberg explored the possible socially enhancing effects of oxytocin. Over 5 days, several rat subjects were injected with the love drug daily. The subjects’ blood pressure, stress hormones, and insulin levels were observed. For up to several weeks after, positive changes were noted.
The findings from the experiment showed potential promise towards oxytocin’s benefits. Levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in humans and rats, were noted to have reduced. Insulin levels were raised, correlating with increased weight gain following the experiment. Additionally, blood pressure was lowered.
Interestingly enough, oxytocin also appeared to demonstrate enhanced healing properties. With repeated doses, subjects appeared to gain weight and heal quicker. The experiment also found evidence of potentially undiscovered oxytocin receptors. These were associated with analgesia and pain relief. Altogether, Uvnas-Moberg’s experiments on oxytocin have many potential implications.
The study appears to imply some anti-anxiety effects. High blood pressure and high amounts of cortisol within the blood are classic signs of excess anxiety. While they are peripheral effects, they still might exacerbate anxiety. The use of oxytocin appears to greatly decrease these associated effects, and may be an effective treatment.
Sociability plays an important role in mental health as well. Those afflicted with such conditions may find themselves in a sort of positive feedback loop, avoiding others out of anxiety, and developing higher anxiety out of avoidance. Oxytocin may be of use in halting and preventing this cycle.
Oxytocin may have many potential uses. The experiment conducted by Uvnas-Moberg demonstrates some of these applications. The study on rats and sociability points towards possibly therapeutic uses of oxytocin. Some individuals may be wondering how to increase oxytocin in the brain.